Sones returns to the Hollywood setting of her affecting verse novel One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies (2004) for this partially successful study in narrative unreliability.
Almost 16, Colette is not looking forward to summer, which she will spend babysitting her 7-year-old brother, Will, in San Luis Obispo, where their actress mother will be on location. In classically narcissistic fashion, their mother instantly hooks up with her co-star, so Colette spends even more time than she expected playing Hungry Hungry Totally Annoying Hippos with Will, who is credulity-stretchingly adorable (“your ath will be grath,” he mock-warns her). Things start looking up when gorgeous Connor, a motorcycle-riding local, bumps into Colette and Will at the farmers market. In seemingly no time, Colette and Connor have a hot-and-heavy flirtation going on around the babysitting. Sones again employs the verse form that has served her well in the past, the one- and occasionally two-page poems keeping pages flipping. Colette is “a big fat / liar” who spins fib after fib, only to contradict it at the very beginning of the next poem. It’s a technique that works well as the characters and plot are becoming established, but readers may find it wearing as what was a frothy romance turns into a cautionary tale, one that leaves Colette sadder, wiser and less interesting.
Readers who find themselves liking the view through Colette’s purple-tinted contacts may well be disappointed by their removal. (Verse novel. 12 & up)